2 Corinthians says it’s not wise to compare yourself to yourself. I wonder what that means?
“When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise”.
Isn’t that the opposite of golf, where you are urged to try to beat your own score? If you only have a good game when you play like a pro, then you’ll most likely never have a good game. I’ve heard the same for writing. “Sound like yourself, don’t compare yourself to others.” Good advice. Don’t focus on being the BEST writer, but the best writer YOU can be. But according to this scripture, there is an unwise way to compare yourself to yourself.
But first, why do we compare ourselves to anyone? Isn’t “comparison” one of those no-no words? Is it ever healthy to compare yourself to others?
Hmm… well, comparisons help you see your gifts. While homeschooling my son, he felt like he might be good at math, but other than standardized testing he had nothing to compare himself to. When he went to school he saw his test scores and those of his friends and realized, Hey! I’m good at math! He wants to be an engineer. It’s good to know your strengths.
Comparing yourself to others also helps you see where you are weak and others are strong. Why is it so hard for me to know where to put things, when my friend can see the most efficient system for keeping up with everything? I know when she comes over she can help me turn disorder into order. And that’s not a small gift.
If a (gentle comparison) between yourself and others can be helpful, then what’s so unwise about comparing yourself to yourself?
I’ve heard that to be an expert at finding counterfeit money you have to study real money. In order to find the flaws and non-truths in things, we need to be a student of what is real, what is true. If I only use myself as a standard to what is true or real, I will always think everything I do naturally is real and right, and everything outside of my own propensities are wrong. I become closed to other ideas and never challenge myself to think outside of myself. I become my own standard. My own God, perhaps?
Also, if I am the type of person who always thinks what I think is wrong (yes, people like us are out there), we will always doubt our own thoughts and give more weight to voices outside our own. I’m fresh meat for cults. And if not a cult, then any noisy trending thoughts of the day, whether they hold merit or not.
There needs to be a constant, a standard by which to measure my thoughts and ideas against. A standard that has shown itself trustworthy for many years (by people who have mostly shown themselves to be loving, kind, generous, honest, humble). And wouldn’t it be wonderful it that standard showed us how to have peace…. and if that standard were given by somebody who ALWAYS wants the greatest good for us… somebody who is willing to give his life for us if needed… somebody who did give his life for us because it was needed? Yes, that’s the standard I want to use.
And I fall short of it every day of my life. And I times I feel despair that it’s just too hard to follow the standard perfectly. And that, of course, is the point. Somebody had to follow the standard perfectly and then gave me credit for it, and then he had to take the heat for my failure. And he did. I would be wise to never compare myself to the standard without that realization.
So, being that I’m not perfect, I can’t follow the standard perfectly. And I, myself, would make a rotten standard. I often think too highly of myself or too lowly, and so any comparisons I make between myself and myself will fluctuate with my mood. I am a creature of change. The best standards don’t change with the wind. They are fixed – less like clouds and waves, more like stars and moons. More like God.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17